Carlos Andrés Sánchez Arcosa only played five matches for the Uruguay national football team in 2018, three of which were at the World Cup.
The first two of those appearances helped his team qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament. Two assists in two 1-0 wins.
A free kick that set Jose Gimenez to score with an 89th-minute header and break a 48-year Uruguayan ‘curse’ of failing to win their opening World Cup game. Then a corner kick that set up Luis Suarez to seal his country’s Round of 16 spot.
Carlos, unlike Jose (Atletico Madrid) or Luis (FC Barcelona), wasn’t playing for a UEFA Champions League club. The then 33-year-old plied his trade for Monterrey in the top tier of Mexican football, Liga MX.
In fact, 2018 was the last year he played for the national team. But when it came to playing at the World Cup, he always stood a better chance than either of his aforementioned teammates, who had already played in previous editions of the competition. You see, it was all in the name.
According to statistics, of the 7,829 players to have played at the World Cup, Carlos, Jose and Luis have been the top three names to feature. And out of the three, Carlos is the most frequent (72), followed by Jose (59) and Luis (56). These are very common names across several countries – Tevez from Argentina, Valderrama of Columbia, and of course, Roberto of Brazil.
Going all the way back to the first World Cup in 1930, one would find the name on the biggest stage in football. In fact, of the 13 squads that participated in the tournament in Uruguay, there were as many as seven players named Carlos. Two of them were part of the hosts who lifted the trophy.
Name not enough
It wasn’t just his name that made Carlos Sanchez a frontrunner for playing at the World Cup. The midfielder was born in Montevideo, host of the first ever final in 1930 and the city that has given the most World Cup players (95). Per bettingexpert.com, the capital of Uruguay leads the tally by a comfortable margin, with Mexico City second with 72 players. Brazil and Argentina’s history in the competition is reflected by Buenos Aires (66) and Rio de Janeiro (63) featuring in third and fourth place in the aforementioned tally.
A little Brazil trivia: Two of its biggest football cities Rio and Sao Paulo are birthplace to as many World Cup winners as the times the Selecaos have lifted the trophy, five. More than any other cities in that regard.
Kylian Mbappe may have said that in South America ‘football isn’t as advanced as in Europe’, but no European city is among the top five in the list.
The city of Santiago in Costa Rica, who have played in five editions of the World Cup, has seen more World Cup players than any European counterpart. However, one has to take into account factors such as immigration and players changing nationalities before making the link between players born in a city correlating to the region’s/country’s success in the game.
Sun sign matters too
Barring their footballing prowess, there was one indicator that suggested Luis Suarez and Jose Gimenez had a better chance to be World Cup players than Carlos Sanchez. Both of them, unlike Carlos, were born in January, the best month to be born in if one wants to play in the competition.
The first month of the Gregorian calendar hosts the birthdays of 761 World Cup players, more than any other. It may be seen as more of a seasonal affair as February (700) and March (721) combine to account for almost 28 percent of all World Cup players’ birthdays. June stands at the bottom of the tally in this regard.
When it comes to winning it, September has been the most common birth month. A total of 21 World Cup winners have been born during the ninth month of the year, including Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima.
But it wasn’t just his birth month that predicted that Ronaldo, a World Cup winner in 2022 who scored 15 goals across three editions, will experience the ultimate footballing high. No. A Luis in his name. Born in Rio de Janeiro. Even before becoming the Phenomenon, Ronaldo’s destiny was sealed.